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Husband hired gang member to kill wife, prosecutors allege

May 31, 2010 |  8:32 am

Slaying victim

A husband whom Los Angeles detectives and prosecutors allege hired a gang member to kill his wife has been arrested and held without bail nearly seven years after her death.

The slaying occurred during the Fourth of July holiday weekend in 2003, when Virginia and Gustavo Alvarez went out for dinner to a Mexican restaurant in Highland Park that was recommended by friends for its guacamole.

As Virginia stepped out of the couple's SUV, a man with a shotgun approached and fatally shot the mother of three in the head. The gunman and an accomplice fled in a small white car.

Seven months after her slaying, the victim's mother appeared at a news conference with half a dozen other relatives, begging anyone with information to call police. "Someone out there knows the truth," Antonia Rivera said.

That person, police now say, is Gustavo Alvarez.

According to court documents obtained by The Times, detectives allege that Gustavo Alvarez hired a member of the notorious Avenues street gang to kill his wife.

"This was a puzzle with a lot of tiny pieces," said Capt. Kevin McClure of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division. "The picture became clearer the more pieces we added."

Ultimately, gang associates and family members helped detectives put it altogether, McClure said.

Jeremy Karpel, Alvarez's defense attorney, said his client is innocent.

Read the full story here.

-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein